The 8th Annual Southwest Florida Nature Festival will take place January 13th to the 15th. The event, hosted by Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Center will feature numerous events, expeditions and speakers that will hi-light the unique ecosystem that is Southwest Florida.
Beginning on Friday and running through Sunday, the center will host field trips at 20 different locations. Some of these trips include birding walks, turtle walks, canoe and kayak excursions, swamp buggy tours and more. These field trips take place all over Collier County and a few are even in Lee County. Some of the places to explore include Big Cypress Preserve, the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge, the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, the Naples Botanical Garden, Tigertail Beach of Marco Island and many, many more.
“Group sizes are limited to make each experience unique.” explains Renee Wilson, Research Translator at the Rookery. “Many of these excursions are not available on a daily basis. All trips are led by expert guides who offer quality information and a memorable experience.” Visit www. rookerybay.org to see a full list of field trips and to register for the one that interests you most. Trips are filling up fast so make sure to sign up as soon as possible.
While these field trips are taking place all over Southwest Florida, Rookery Bay will host a number of activities at their facility on Saturday the 14th. Visit the Rookery for only $10 and have access to their Learning Center, experience trail walks on-site and attend up to four presentations hosted by local environmental experts.
Learn about the Burrowing Owl with Nancy Richie, Environmental Specialist of Marco Island at 11 AM. Jack Berninger of the Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve will discuss the unique flora and fauna of the Everglades at noon. Up next is Ted Below of the RookeryBay Reserve. He will be discussing the life of the “Not So Brown Pelican” through its ever-changing colors at 1 PM. Jonee’ Miller of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida will be discussing “Tales from the Wildlife Clinic” at 2:00 PM. The lecture will focus on amazing and surprising animal rescues within the area. All four of these presentations are included in the $10 admission price.
Spend an extra $10 to listen to the Keynote Speakers of the event and you won’t be disappointed. Michael Male and Judy Fieth will be sharing their experiences filming Florida’s waterbirds. Michael and Judy are well-known in the filmmaking community. Their footage has been featured in many nature documentaries including LIFE, Planet Earth and Life of Birds, to name a few. They have been documenting the behavior of bird life for over 25 years and often spend weeks at a time with individual birds while filming. Their presentation, from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM, will include a video presentation featuring the great birds of our area such as the Roseate Spoonbill, Wood Stork and Limpkin. There will also be a question and answer section and light refreshments will be provided.
While Rookery Bay will be closed on Sunday, there will still be many field trips available. Going into its eighth year, the festival continues to grow in popularity. “We have always used our Annual Southwest Florida Nature Festival as a way to stimulate appreciation of the wildlife and habitat in our area,” adds Wilson. “These natural areas don’t protect themselves. By raising awareness we can help support habitat conservation efforts which is not only environmentally important, but economically important as well.”
Economically speaking, the events and trips are priced very reasonably. Field trip costs start at only $10. Visit www.rookery bay.org to learn more about their Nature Festival and to join in on the festivities.